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The Concert Hall (Masonic Temple) is reopening

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Legendary music venue the Concert Hall is reopening in June

The 100-year-old live music venue, housed in the old Masonic Temple building, will relaunch during the Toronto Jazz Festival and continue to operate year-round

by Kevin Ritchie

May 2, 2017

Storied live music venue the Concert Hall will reopen for Toronto Jazz Festival.

The 100-year-old venue, which is housed inside 888 Yonge St. – the Masonic Temple building at the corner of Yonge and Davenport – will continue to operate year-round after the June festival. Toronto Jazz Fest, which takes place from June 23-July 2, is also moving to Yorkville where it will host more than 100 free concerts on various stages.

Randy Bachman will mark the new beginning of the space on June 23 with a performance alongside Walter Trout and special guests. Tickets will be priced $19.17, a nod to the year the Concert Hall opened.  

One of two venues inside the Masonic Temple, the Concert Hall saw big-band orchestras perform there in the 30s and 40s and Frank Sinatra's private parties in the 50s. Its legend grew during the rock n' roll explosion of the 1960s: Led Zeppelin played their first Toronto show there in 1969 and it was a favoured rehearsal space for the Rolling Stones.

During the 80s and 90s, the 1,500-capacity Concert Hall became the place to catch popular new wave and alt-rock acts such as Iggy Pop, Smashing Pumpkins, Nina Hagen, The Cure, Beastie Boys, The Tragically Hip, Rage Against The Machine and Sloan.

However, the space ceased holding public concerts after Bell Media bought the Masonic Temple in 1998. The media giant used the six-storey building as a studio for shows such as eTalk and Open Mike With Mike Bullard, as well as MTV Canada and events such as the Polaris Prize.

Bell put the building up for sale 2013 and it was purchased by London, Ontario-based IT firm Info-Tech Research Group for $12.5 million.

"We are excited to partner with the TD Toronto Jazz Festival and reintroduce this historic venue to a new generation of music lovers,” said William Russell, executive director of 888yonge Inc, the company that books events in the building.

Other acts set to play the Concert Hall during Jazz Fest include Allen, Carrington, Spalding, Robert Glasper Experiment, Shabaka & The Ancestors, John LaBarbera Big Band (paying tribute to Buddy Rich), Bokante and By Monk.

The reopening is good news for promoters that have long complained Toronto is in need of more mid-sized concert halls. It's also timely: the 2,752-seat Massey Hall is preparing to close in 2019 for up to 24 months as part of a $135-million renovation.

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With a quotation from our very own, long-lost \/\/illy right there in the article!

This was hands-down one of the best venues in the city for ages. Saw a lot of great shows here, including Phish in '93. So glad it's coming back!

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